“…I see. So you have a spirit, as well. But it’s too late… All too late. I cannot stop now. I must remove the weak, incomplete human spirit from this world and bring it perfection!” – Cyrus, Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon
Prime example of “the weak, incomplete human spirit”: Someone decided to steal the entire United Kingdom’s stock of Prerelease cards for this set. Really? Who has the moral low point to steal huge quantities of a children’s card game?
It’s been nearly 3 months now since Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon released, and we’re finally getting the appropriate set in the TCG. In case the title and quote didn’t make it obvious, this set is based on my favorite region, Sinnoh. This is good, because Sinnoh had a ton of cool Pokémon. The other thing this set proves is that TPCi actually pays attention to the meta. At least they must, otherwise they wouldn’t make half the good cards hard counter the BDIF (best deck in format).
I have taken the liberty of meticulously analyzing each and every card in the upcoming TCG set for playability, artistic value, and interesting mechanics. As such, I will be using this article to forgo whatever results I may have picked up from this analysis and just rant about which cards I like and don’t like. So without further ado, here is the fifth full set in the seventh generation, the first in 2018, and the equivalent of the Japanese Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, Sun and Moon: Ultra Prism.
Standard Disclaimer: As usual, these are my opinions. Also as usual, some images are of Japanese cards because no one has apparently seen an English version.
Abbreviations – SM5, ULP
Cards – 156 + 17 Secret Rares
Dominant Type(s) – Grass, although it feels like Metal should be.
Card Distribution – 137 Pokémon, 31 Trainers, and 5 Special Energy
Featured Pokémon – Pack art depicts Dawn Wings Necrozma, Dusk Mane Necrozma, Giratina, and Leafeon. This is the second and third pack art for Necrozma (expect the fourth next set). This is Giratina’s fourth pack art and first since Dragons Exalted, while Leafeon appears on the pack art for its second time and first since Rising Rivals. There are two Elite Trainer Boxes this set, featuring Dawn Wings Necrozma and Dusk Mane Necrozma. Theme decks are called Mach Strike and Imperial Command, based on Garchomp and Empoleon respectively, the second theme deck for each.
Pokémon Debuts – Surprisingly enough, none.
Random Fact – You can, in Standard, legally evolve the Stage 1 Shieldon from this set into the Stage 1 Bastiodon from Steam Siege. PROGRESS! Also Alolan Vulpix appears here for the third set in a row, with each iteration somehow getting continuously worse. Alolan Ninetales is oddly absent, however.
Yeah, yeah, Glaceon is better. But that comes later in the set, so let’s talk about Leafeon.
Leafy’s ability has a bunch of text, but really the point is if it’s active and has an Energy, it can heal itself (or any single other Pokémon with Energy) for 50 damage every turn. Have fun pew-pew arrowing that, Decidueye-GX.
Leafeon’s GX attack is why we’re here though. It allows you to simultaneously search your deck for the evolutions of and then evolve every basic on your bench. Brigette is still in the format people.
Also, the Full Art and Rainbow versions of this card are really pretty.
Well, the first of these guys falls here in set order, so now’s as good a time as any to discuss motors.
What these six plasma thingies have in common is their Ability, Roto Motor. It says that if you’ve discarded 9 Tools, they attack for free. All of them. Luckily for them, Gourgeist from Guardians Rising lets you potentially discard six at once. Profit? Yes.
He didn’t start the fire, but he DID amp it up.
That ability is ridiculous. Burned Pokémon taking 60 damage between turns means your measly 50 damage attack effectively deals 110 at base, or 170 if the opponent misses the flip and doesn’t retreat by your next turn. This ability also applies to Burn damage from any source, so if you stack it with some Poison buffs like Seviper and then use Salazzle’s Hot Lick ability, you can get Tons of Damage without even attacking.
Emperte is probably the best of the Sinnoh starters for this set. It usually is in the TCG to be honest, but that’s neither here nor there. The Penguin was also the MVP of my Prerelease deck.
Way back when in the HGSS era, we had a deck called Jumpluff. Now, Jumpluff was incredible because it could do 10 damage for each Pokémon both players had in play. Recently some people at these big tournaments started thinking doing 20 damage times the number of Pokémon you had in play was worth building a deck around. So, now let’s do 20 damage times the number of benched Pokémon BOTH players have on there bench for two Energy.
Yes, I know Trade is why people play Zoroark rather than the attack, but my point stands. Empoleon does damage.
Oh, I nearly forgot. We don’t know how or when we’re getting the alt-type Pokémon from Japan’s SM5+, but when we do Empoleon gets a Metal-type card. This means it’s free to abuse all of the lovely Metal buffs I’ll talk about later.
Party’s over, Metagross. No more free Energy for you.
Glaceon’s Ability is nice and to the point: Your opponent’s GX and EX can’t use Abilities while Glaceon is sitting in the Active. Tapu Lele gets shut down, Metagross can’t recover Energy, Solgaleo can’t free switch, Decidueye can’t Feather Arrow.
Gardevoir gets bopped by this as well, but that’s not as important because… well… the rest of the set happened. We’re getting there.
Also, every version of this card is really pretty.
TPC has realizes their mistake and made something to permanently Paralyze Metals. Unfortunately, the card is completely unviable. I just am making a point about what’s to come.
Ramp-Ramp has one attack that does a ton of damage to evolved Pokémon and one that insta-KOes Basics. You read that right. Basic Pokémon hit by Rampardos’ second attack are instantly knocked out. Looking at you, Dawn Mane Necrozma GX.
Why hello there, Garchomp C. We missed you.
Garchomp, Lucario, and the Supporter card Cynthia all work hand-in-hand. Garchomp does 200 damage if you played Cynthia in the same turn. Lucario lets you search your deck for literally any card as long as you have Garchomp in play. Put it together, and magic happens. Probably.
While we’re here, let’s talk about the two theme decks for this set. These two theme decks are ridiculously good. We don’t have the full card list for either of them, but we know Imperial Command is based on Empoleon and Mach Strike is based on Garchomp. Empoleon decks are something I really want to try, especially after the prerelease performance I had with them. But while that sounds good, Mach Strike easily has the potential to be one of the best theme decks ever depending on the inclusion of Lucario (which is assumed to be probably a 2-1 or 2-2 line) and the quantity of Cynthia (I’d guess two of these). Normally you can’t make a deck based on a Theme Deck effectively, but honestly if it ends up being a 2-2 Lucario and 2 Cynthia, you can literally just buy two of that theme deck and you now have a solid League Challenge deck.
And at last, we reach the Metal-types. Otherwise known as the fun part of this set.
Alolan Dugtrio isn’t really part of the Metal Apocalypse I mentioned in the title though. He’s kind of a premonition.
Owen Wilsons is a fully evolved Stage 1 with 60 HP. That’s the bad part. The good part of this card is the attack, Gold Rush. Don’t attach Energy to Duggy, just discard it from the hand for 30 damage per Metal. And when you consider Mt. Coronet being in this set, you have plenty of recovery to work with.
The era of Metal has begun. And Metal shall prevail, for we know what they have done. – The Prophecy
Nearly every time we get a Pokémon that allows unlimited Energy attachments, we try to make a deck with it. See: Rain Dance, Keldeo/Blastoise, Archie’s Blastoise, etc.
So on that note, welcome to the format, Magnezone. We really did need a new infinite Energy attach Pokémon. Plus, we needed something to dethrone our current Metal-weak overlords, Gardevoir-GX.
Anyway, say hello to your new BDIF. Call it the revenge of the machines, call it Skynet coming online, call it whatever you want. Point is, Magnezone is here to stay (at least for like 3 months).
What, you thought you could actually damage our new Metal oppressors? Well, if you have a DCE, that’s just not going to happen. Everyone’s favorite dino-fort prevents Pokémon with Special Energy from attacking Metals. Sorry about that.
We interrupt our live broadcast of the Metals taking over the universe to bring you a special presentation on Prism Stars.
Prism Star cards, which are denoted by the big in at least two places on the card, can take the form of a Pokémon, Trainer, or Special Energy and are unusual because they are limited to one copy per deck. Also they go to the Lost Zone instead of the discard. In case you forgot what the Lost Zone was since we last used it like 30 years (read: 6 years) ago, it’s essentially our equivalent of Magic the Gathering’s “Exile”. Point is, you can’t Rescue Stretcher it back, and Gengar Prime can use it as a win condition in Unlimited I guess.
We now return to our live broadcast of the Metals taking over the universe.
Solgaleo♢ lets you recover Metal Energy equal to the number of Pokémon your opponent has in play from the Discard directly onto your Pokémon for only a single Metal. Should you get four Metal Energy on Solgaleo♢, you can do a good 160 damage with the only recoil being unable to attack the following turn.
This is where I remind you that Solgaleo-GX exists. It does 230 for three Energy, but you need to discard them. With a good way to get them back in either Solgaleo♢ or Mt. Coronet and a way to attach 3 Energy a turn in Magnezone, doing 130 damage every turn isn’t that unfeasible anymore.
Of course, the problem with this is that Magnezone and Solgaleo (and Bastiodon) are all Stage 2s. Wouldn’t it be great if they had a Basic Metal-type Pokémon to start the chunk damage?
OH ARCEUS I WASN’T BEING SERIOUS SAVE ME AHHHHHHHH!!!!
Not Ultra Necrozma is essentially Solgaleo-GX lite. It needs four Energy to do only 220 damage, and still discards three of them, but it’s a Basic. You’ve probably figured out where this is going by now. Tons of Damage.
Dialga-GX (100, 146 FA, 164 SR)
Imagine, you sit patiently waiting against a Metal deck. Your opponent attached like seven Energy, played Cyrus to boardwipe you, and probably evolved like three Solgaleo. But at last, your turn is in sight. You will use this turn to vanquish your foe and then… Timeless GX
Ignoring the part where Dialga gives you a full literally free turn (that being Timeless GX), Dialga also is an excellent lead for Metal decks with his one-Energy “Draw until you have six cards in hand” attack. But like,
When this turn is over, start your turn again.
That’s a good attack effect right there.
While his type in this set is technically Dragon, we know Japan’s SM5+ has a Metal-type version, so I’m counting it.
And now for something completely different, have a fat kitty.
Mars’ Cat is here because it wins “best attack name of the set” with “Own the Place”. The original translation from Japanese, “Master of the House”, was arguably cooler, but I still like this. What a true representation of actual kittens.
Back when Professor Juniper, which was later reprinted as Professor Sycamore, first released, we all thought it was a terrible card. Why? We had Professor Oak’s New Theory (usually referred to as PONT, I preferred to call it PUNT as an American football joke). Shuffling your hand into your deck was considered superior to discarding it, enough so that we were willing to take one less card for our troubles. Then PONT rotated and we learned to suck it up and discard our hands
So, in a Sycamore-filled meta, PONT re-releases as Cynthia. Will this be a meta-changer? Probably not. But I’ll prioritize it over Sycamore.
Also, the FA version is like, REALLY pretty.
I don’t even know what to make of this card. It forces your opponent’s bench temporarily down to two Pokémon, but only if your active is Water or Metal (there’s the buzz word for the set again). Also you can only play one of it. Still worth running if your deck allows in my opinion.
Note: Cyrus was mistranslated by TPCi. It should be playable only when your Active Pokémon is Water or Metal, however the English card states that it works if any of your Pokémon are Water or Metal. We don’t yet have a ruling on this. This is really important, because Octillery is Water-type.
Gardenia (124, 149 FA), Mars (128, 154 FA), Volkner (135, 156 FA), Looker (126, 152 FA)
The full-art Supporters in this set are really pretty. Like all of them. But ESPECIALLY Gardenia. Also bonus points for Looker because he’s eating a masalada.
Lillie reprint in her Z-Powered outfit looks really nice.
But why is it Z-Powered? Whatever, the card hasn’t changed at all.
This card does exactly what it says on the cover. Two Metal Energy from the Discard to your hand. Every turn.
Pal Pad’s back everyone!!!!!
Pal Pad is VS Seeker (which returned a Supporter from your discard to your hand) except it grabs two supporters, but at the cost of putting them into your deck rather than your hand. How delightful. At least I have a way to get my decent Supporters back again!
Decidueye-GX approves this card.
This is a bit of an oddball. It’s big Energy for big Pokémon. It’s even bigger Energy if you have many Big Pokémon. There are a ton of good applications of this.
Assorted Pretty Pokémon
This card has so many Pokémon cards that are look super cool but are like commons or just bad. So, have a slideshow of them.
All in all, a Sinnoh-based set is a good set. Ultra Prism looks to have some very awesome cards to work with, and I’m excited for the upcoming format. Also this is the prettiest set this generation easily. I rate this set…
Final Score: 7.8/10 Too Much Metal
That’s all the time I have for today. Make sure to pick up some cards from Sun and Moon: Ultra Prism when they release on February 2nd! If you have any thoughts on this new set, tell us in the comments. Have fun with Metal Spam, and I’ll see you in May when we unlock the mysteries of the Forbidden Light.
Edited by bobandbill and Rabinov.
Japanese cards from Pokebeach. English cards from pokemon.com or Pokéllector, with the ones from the latter being watermarked as such.